A Flash of Inspiration | Ruined by King Henry VIII


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Ruined by King Henry VIII

March 13, 2015  •  8 Comments

Come rain or shine I feel a pull to get out with my camera. I still feel almost a sense of urgency that there are so many places to discover. Exploring in the winter usually means the touristy places are almost deserted. I don’t like crowds.  I enjoy peace and quiet and to be able to explore  every nook and cranny, to go ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ at new discoveries and to rub my fingers over the textures of weathered stone and metalwork without  getting strange glances from passers-by. In my head I  scream to them  “Hey, just slow down and take a closer look at what you’re missing”. 

It was a crisp cold Sunday morning with blue skies dotted with  fast moving wispy clouds. I felt a little uneasy as  the wind seemed to be gathering speed. A storm was brewing. I wound my way through sleepy village after sleepy village  in the Yorkshire Dales and admired the carpets of weather beaten snowdrops dancing in the wind on the neat grass verges. 

I unexpectedly happened upon a feast for my eyes.  I glimpsed a magnificent significant ruin. 

Many historical sites are usually maintained by organisations such as The National Trust or English Heritage. But Jervaulx Abbey is privately owned medieval ruin dating back to around 1156.  Can you imagine the thrill of owning a ruined abbey?  A great topic for discussion at a dinner party! 

I popped some money into the old wooden honesty box by the iron gate and scampered excitedly across the site. 

I quickly realised the place was deserted and my heart skipped a beat. Perfect! 

A brief downpour of rain appeared from almost nowhere so I sheltered under a stone archway and contemplated  life  at the Cistercian Abbey before King Henry VIII and his campaign of destruction to rid the country of such religious establishments during the 16th century. Life for the monks would’ve been harsh back then - the strict routine of daily life in an inhospitable landscape. It can be so very bleak, damp and bitterly cold up here.

As always, I'm drawn to texture and shape. It was interesting to determine the outline of the various rooms, spot the remains of features such as flights of stone stairs...

...doors and rounded archways...


…fireplaces and chimneys.

To a certain extent the wild creepers have protected crumbling walls from the elements over the years. The stone is typical of the area.

This was my favourite window with the view of the striking white-barked birch tree.

I briefly considered resting awhile on the rickety bench but thought better of when I noticed the splinters! Ouch! 

But with the wind increasing in speed and whistling through the windows and doorways I couldn’t help but look upwards and wonder  “how much longer will this stand?” And just imagine the costs of public insurance?

I didn’t hang around! And within hours the snow came down thick and fast! 

I hope you enjoyed my walk around the the ruins.

Interesting snippet of information - remains of the lead roof were discovered in the 1920s and used to restore the windows in York Minster.

I'd love to see where you explore  with your camera - please feel free to add a link in the comments box.

Enjoy your week!


For more info on Jervaulx visit the website



What an awesome place. The bench makes a lovely photo, but I definitely wouldn't want to sit there. All that crumbling goodness and so lucky to have the place to yourself.
The older the better for me...I'm fascinated with history that began long before the structures we have in America. There is history, but nothing like the stone structures and ruins in Europe and other countries. The bottom picture would make a beautiful wall print. Thanks for sharing your exciting photo walk..I really enjoyed reading about it, and seeing the pictures. Some macro shots of the stones would also be amazing.
Wonderful, Helen! Love it. I am sad to say I was unaware of what Henry VIII did to these building and the people/priests who lived there. I saw a documentary and was astounded. What a waste. I suppose the good news is there are so many places to explore today and photograph. I hope to see these in person one day. In the meantime, your photos are the next best thing. Thanks!
looks very atmospheric great pictures
Kelly L Mckenzie(non-registered)
Oh those walls! So thick. And those windows! So small. You stepped back, waaaay back in time. I am so delighted to take this walk with you. How interesting too that the remains of the lead roof were repurposed - almost a hundred years ago!
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